At the Cabana Cachaça Bartender Olympics at Tales of the Cocktail, the West Coast Team emerged as winners, co-captained by Walter Moore and Alex Straus (founder of D&D Cocktails, LLC and affiliated with Hotel Shangri-la in Santa Monica), with Los Angeles’ Jason Bran from the Roger Room and Julian Cox from Rivera and R23 Restaurant, and San Francisco’s Josh Harris and Scott Baird from 15 Romolo completing the winning side. The teams were judged on speed, cachaça knowledge and creativity. Second place went to the Southeast team led by co-captains Gabriel Orta (Florida Room) and Elad Zvi (Living Room), founders of Bar Lab, with Julio Cabrera of Viceroy, Robert Ortenzio of Señora Martinez, John Lermayer from the Florida Room and Tommy Merolla from the Living Room at W South Beach Hotel, Miamians all.
Nearby, the finals of the Amarula Cream Experiment were underway, as the brand named the Ultimate Amarula Mixologist. Final contenders were selected from more than 300 applications to compete in the throwdown, including Andrew Friedman from Liberty Bar in Seattle; Chris Hannah from Arnaud's in New Orleans; Justin Noel from Pranna in New York; Cesar Romero from V Bar in Miami; and Emilio Tiburcio from Fusion Bar at the Palazzo Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. Each bartender created three Amarula-based cocktails: their winning cocktail, an original Amarula shot and a cocktail using Amarula with mystery ingredients unveiled at the contest. The mystery basket included mini Oreo cookies, peanut butter, Dr. Pepper and almond extract, among other ingredients. The final cocktails were reviewed on taste, presentation and creativity, and Emilio Tiburcio took home the prize to Fusion Bar at the Palazzo Hotel Casino in Las Vegas.
The Catdaddy Bar Chef Challenge gathered to declare the ultimate Catdaddy Moonshine cocktail at Tales of the Cocktail. The challenge began in April with submission of about 50 recipes, with three mixologists emerging to present their recipes in New Orleans. The three finalists and their drinks — Jim Kearns (bar manager and bartender at NYC’s Rye House) and his Mountain Moonshine Punch; Giacomo Cuccurullo, bar chef instructor at the Instituto Culinario de Mexico for his Last Kiss; and Payman Bahmani a Brooklyn-based mixologist, writer and consultant for his Chinese Bootlegger. Bahmani took the Golden Mason Jar Trophy with his Chinese Bootlegger, a combination of Catdaddy, oolong tea, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, agave syrup, cinnamon syrup and Angostura bitters.